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Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue no. 19, 9 - 15 February 2015

News of the Week:
  • National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich will today meet the Budget and Appropriations Committee to explain the Budget numbers and shed light on the additional requests that government departments have made in the Supplementary Budget. This is part of the process through which they get to understand the Budget Policy Statement and the Division of Revenue Bill, 2015 – the two key documents that will form the basis for the next financial year’s national Budget.  
     
 
  • The Senate has begun debating a proposed formula to guide revenue sharing among counties for the next three years. The Senate's Finance and Budget Committee has recommended inclusion of two more parameters; development factor and personnel emolument, in the Second Generation Revenue Sharing Formula, devised by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA). This would bring to seven the factors for consideration in revenue sharing. The committee has retained other factors such as population, basic share, poverty, land area and fiscal responsibility.
     
 
  • MPs have condemned the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for allegedly colluding with lawyers to fleece the public. The National Assembly Justice and Legal Committee questioned the Sh624 million in pending bills the commission is seeking to settle legal fees. The commission said the bills arise from various petitions, ranging from MCAs, MPs, and governorship positions as those arising from the presidential petition were settled. The committee directed the commission to file a list of all lawyers for scrutiny. 
 
  • The Auditor-General has proposed amendments to the Public Audit Bill, 2014 that will secure the independence of the Budget Office and recruit own staff. Edward Ouko wants MPs to make changes to clause 40 of the Bill on auditing national security organs, which he said is too prescriptive to the extent that it gags the auditor from discharging his mandate. He is proposing to replace the entire clause 40 of the Bill to require that the Auditor-General and representatives shall hold an inception meeting, at the highest level, to agree on the areas which may touch on national security and consequently determine the scope of the audit coverage. Dr Ouko also seeks to change clause 20 of the Bill which proposes that he submits his budget to the Treasury for review and subsequent transmission to Parliament for approval. He said Parliament, as the primary oversight institution should be the primary decider on budget estimates. 
 
  • The Treasury is still holding Sh23.6 billion meant for development projects in 48 constituencies. Data from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Board secretariat shows that Sh2.67 billion out of the total balance relates to undisbursed allocations for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 financial years. The report on CDF project approvals and disbursement status covering the month of December 2014, indicates that 232 constituencies have received at least 25 per cent of their annual allocation, 10 have received statutory allocation while 48 have not been funded. The Treasury has only disbursed Sh10.2 billion out of the total annual budget of Sh33.2 billion to the 290 constituencies leaving a balance of Sh23 billion. In the current financial year, the Treasury allocated CDF Sh33.2 billion up from the Sh23.1 billion in the last financial year and Sh21.76 billion in 2012/13. According to the report, the Treasury is yet to release the balance of Sh489.3 million relating to the 2012/13 and Sh2.2 billion for the 2013/14 financial years. With eight months gone in the current fiscal year, the Treasury held Sh20. 91 billion meant for projects in the constituencies as at December 24, 2014. The report shows that 289 constituencies have so far submitted their projects proposals for 2014/15 out of which 276 were deliberated on by the board on September 5 last year while 12 are awaiting deliberation.
 
  • MPs from marginalized areas have threatened to block the Sh57 billion supplementary budget over the Equalization Fund (EF). A total of 105 MPs from 14 counties meant to receive the EF—which has since accumulated to Sh20 billion, are aggrieved that Treasury is refusing to allocated this amount and they are mulling over impeachment motion against Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich. The legislators are drawn from Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Tana River, Narok, Kwale, Garissa, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Isiolo and Lamu counties. The EF is established under Article 204 of the Constitution for use by the national government to provide basic services including water, roads, health facilities and electricity to marginalized areas. The fund constitutes 0.5 per cent of all the revenue collected by the national government each year calculated on the basis of most recent audited accounts of cash received and as approved by the National Assembly.
 
  • Three people have been sentenced to death for killing former Embakasi MP Melitus Mugabe Were seven years ago. Judge Luka Kimaru found James Omondi alias Castro, Wycliffe Walimbwa Simiyu alias Zimbo and Paul Oman alias Baba guilty of murdering the MP in 2008.  The judge, however, acquitted a fourth accused Mary Wamaitha, arguing that there was no evidence connecting her to the murder as she had only been found in the house of Oman. In his verdict, the judge said that the prosecution had proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the three had been involved in the murder of the MP through blood samples, DNA results and fingerprints. 
     
 
 
EditorialFor How Long will Parliamentarians be deemed ‘Untouchable’? 


Parliamentarians as the indirect people representatives are not above the law. The National Assembly Speaker’s decision not to punish MPs who acted dishonorably during the Security Laws (Amendment) bill debate is essentially tolerance of status quo. Apparently, the Parliamentarians only got a warning that such behavior will not be tolerated again. When will our Parliamentarians start taking responsibility for their actions? Punishing the culpable MPs would have set a precedent and checked the possibility of a repeat of such behavior in the future. Read more


Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon. Mbuvi Kioko on the Status of Investigation on Rannerberger/USA Complaints on 28th June, 2012

“I concur with hon. Shebesh that the names of the five MPs mentioned in the report were used as scapegoats, while the real drug dealers, including the senior most police officers and other big personalities were spared. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the moment you do a follow up on these matters, you are threatened with death. That is how senior politicians in this House and junior police officers have met their deaths.”  Read Hansard



Lest we Forget!

Sentiments by Hon. David Musila following a motion on the approval of taxation measures on 16th June 2010.

“No economy will grow so long as credit is not available to the citizens who are the ones who move the economy forward. Therefore, I urge the Minister to do what it takes to ensure that these banks, which up to now are only giving lip service to the issue of reduction of interest, to ensure that banks are made to reduce the interest they charge on loans, so that the people of this country can secure loans and improve this country’s economy. Mr. Temporary Deputy Chairman, Sir, I am sure that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance is able to do this. I am sure that this House expects him to do just that.” Read Hansard



Newsmaker this week:

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale has differed with governors and legislators opposed to the equipping of hospitals in the counties. Dr Khalwale said the Sh38 billion health plan was noble. Under the plan, 94 hospitals countrywide would be equipped with a laboratory, ICU unit, a dialysis centre, chemotherapy facility and a cancer diagnostic centre by end of May. He said improving access to quality health care was too important to be subjected to politicking. He told off governors who boycotted the signing of the agreements at State House last week on grounds they were not involved, a position the Health Ministry denies. Profile


Parliament Report Card

MPs 2014 Report card: Who were the best performing members of Parliament in 2014?

Analysis of data based on parliamentary debate in 2014 has revealed that thirteen Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) did not contribute to plenary discussions at all. Of these silent members 10 represent constituencies, two are women representatives and one is a nominated representative. In fact, three of the 13 legislators have actually never given their maiden speech in the house since they were elected. This is a dismal report given participation to debate is one of the key metrics in ensuring an MP fulfills his overall responsibility of representation, oversight and legislation.

Generally, there was a marked improvement in Parliamentarians performance compared to the 2013 report. Over 150 MNAs gave between 20 and 100 contributions to debate in the house unlike in 2013 where over a third of them spoke less than 10 times each. About 50 % of the Senators spoke over 100 times, a great improvement from the 2013 record where 30% were active.  Mzalendo compiled the report based on the official Hansard contributions published by Parliament after each sitting.  
See the infographic http://goo.gl/id2PK7


Public Participation;

The Senate is inviting members of the public to assist in the vetting of the team nominated to the position of commissioners in the commission of inquiry into the petition to dissolve Makueni County Government. You can submit written memoranda to the Clerk of the Senate csenate@parliament.go.ke, or mail to Clerk of the Senate P.O.Box 41842 - 00100, Nairobi or hand delivered to the Clerk at Main Parliament Building by 20th February 2015, 5pm.
 
 
The National Assembly is seeking your views on the draft Public Audit Bill 2014 and Public Procurement and Disposal Assets Bill 2014. Written memoranda can be submitted to clerk@parliament.go.ke, sent to Clerk of the National Assembly P.O.Box 41842 - 00100, Nairobi or hand delivered to the Clerk at Main Parliament Building by 23rd of February 2015 at 5pm
 
 

Working conditions for MPs come under scrutiny

Drivers and bodyguards of MPs say they are overworked and underpaid. They have now petitioned the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate and the Parliamentary Service Commission to address their concerns touching on working conditions, remuneration and general welfare. Among their grievances is that they don’t get allowances for nights spent away from their station — Parliament — when they accompany the MPs from Friday to Monday. They cite such instances as when MPs attend committee meetings outside Nairobi or visit constituencies over the weekend. Their representative said they were emboldened to speak about their working conditions after their colleagues assigned to Kabete MP George Muchai were killed together with him. The bodyguards had stayed with him from 5am on Friday to the time they were all shot dead in the wee hours of Saturday.

Events

The iHub will be hosting a forum to discuss blogging, its merits, demerits and whether this space should be regulated or not. They also intend to shed some light on the differences (if any) between journalism and blogging, and therefore how the Government and regulatory bodies should handle them (the same way, or differently?)


They have invited the different players in this space to get input across the board. They include
  1. Priscilla Nyokabi - Nyeri County Women's rep to the National Assembly
  2. John Omo - Legal Director - The Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK)
  3. James Wamathai - Bloggers Association of Kenya
  4. David Makali - Journalist, Citizen TV
  5. Violet Kerubo - State Counsel at the Attorney General’s chambers
The discussion will be taking place today, Wednesday, 18th February from 5:30 pm at the iHub.  Register here
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